He also wants to improve player development, along with Jeff Gorton, the new executive director of hockey operations.
Both of those things were highlighted in the decision to trade defenceman Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers Wednesday night in exchange for a first-round pick at next year’s NHL Draft, a fourth-round pick this year and 20-year-old forward prospect Ty Smilanic.
Chiarot is not an “analytics darling” as Hughes put it Thursday when he met with the media at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. But the departure of the 6-foot-3, 234-pound defenceman who led the Canadiens in ice time (averaging 23:33 per game) leaves a big hole on the blue line.
Hughes believes some of the young defence prospects the Canadiens have can help fill that hole in the future. They include Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris (if he signs after his Northeastern University season ends) and Jayden Struble.